Bernie Sanders has repeatedly stated that 60% of Americans are in favor of his universal healthcare plan. While a recent Kaiser Health Poll did indeed record 6 in 10 voters as supportive of Sanders’ nationalized healthcare plan, it did not inform voters of important information regarding the plan.
It also phrased the question in the most favorable way possible, calling it ‘Medicare for All’, rather than the less popular terms ‘universal health care’ or ‘single payer health care’. Because of this, the Kaiser poll cannot be said to accurately represent the general stance of the public.
While the recent Kaiser poll that Sanders has used to tout support of his universal healthcare plan may not tell the entire story, a similar one from July 2017 does a better job of showing the full picture. When asking if voters supported all Americans receiving healthcare from the government, 53% voted in favor of the proposal. Just by being made aware that such a plan would increase taxes for many, opposition of the plan skyrocketed to 60%.
That resounding opposition was found without even giving the full details of the tax plan to voters. The voters in the poll were likely unaware of just how drastically taxes would need to increase. The Health Policy Center projects that universal health care would cost $32 trillion over 10 years. The Tax Policy Center, a separate research group, estimated that even if Sanders implemented his tax plan that would add $15.3 trillion in federal revenue over 10 years, the high costs of universal healthcare would still add $18 trillion to the national debt over the same period of time.
Even without knowing exactly how much taxes would need to increase to cover universal healthcare, voters overwhelmingly opposed the plan just on the basis that it would force increased taxes. The true cost of universal healthcare is likely much higher than most of the voters could have anticipated, which means it cannot be accurately said that 60% of voters support such a dramatic overhaul of the healthcare system.
While Sanders is incorrect in stating that the overwhelming majority of Americans support universal health care, he is correct in assessing that there is a rising attitude in this country that health care is the government’s responsibility.
A Pew Research poll from July 2017 found that 6 in 10 voters believed that it is the government’s job to ensure healthcare for all Americans. However, of this 60%, only 33% supported a fully-nationalized healthcare system. The overwhelming majority of Americans still support a fully or partially privatized healthcare system, at 67%. It is also worth noting that even among Democrats, only 52% fully supported a single payer system, which seems to pour ice on Sanders’ ‘Medicare for All’ fire.
There was a time when most Americans would have considered healthcare solely the responsibility of private businesses. Now, the majority support heavy government involvement. However, it does not appear that a universal health care plan will become implemented anytime soon in America because simply telling voters the severe costs of the plan is enough to create fierce, majority opposition to the potential overhaul of the healthcare system.
Josh Hight is an 18-year-old junior in college and aspiring oral surgeon. He is a Christian Libertarian with a passion for self-governance.